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Volkswagen is Working to Automate the Car Charging Process

July 23, 2015

One of the biggest hassles with electric vehicles today is figuring out how to keep them charged up. With relatively short driving ranges, charging an electric car today is a constant chore that has to be completed. That’s a problem that Volkswagen is working hard to solve. They are designing an automated charging process, where an electric vehicle will charge itself up.

The Automatic Charging Concept

With Volkswagen’s concept, the electric vehicle is commanded to go find a charging space by way of a smartphone. After the command is issued, the vehicle immediately begins driving itself to the nearest local charging spot. Once it reaches the spot it will be charged through inductive charging until topped up. After the vehicle is full of power it then moves to a standard parking space where it will remain until the owner is ready to go to their next destination.

Making the Technology Happen

In order to allow this technology Volkswagen is designing a wireless charging system and they are working on automation technology that will allow the vehicle to drive itself around to the space it needs to be at. The automaker is being careful to rely on off-the-shelf products that are already on the market to make sure the tech can be released quickly.

They are currently testing out the idea using an e-Golf along with four wide-angle cameras, three different stereo cameras and a dozen different ultrasonic sensors. Finally the system relies on a car-to-car data transmission system that helps vehicles safely determine if spots are empty or not so that each car can easily find a charging space.

Amazing Tech Advancements

The test shows how far the technology has already advanced and it’s pretty amazing to think that there are automakers designing cars that can not only drive themselves, but park themselves and deal with actively charging themselves. It’s all very futuristic and when released will make owning an electric vehicle much more convenient.

The Benefits of the Tech

The main benefit of this technology will go to commuting professionals. They will be able to have their electric vehicle drop them off in front of work and the car will then take itself to the nearest charging station and top up its power. When the professional gets out of work they can summon the vehicle and have it ready for them at a nearby location when they arrive. This cuts out most of the walking portion of commuting and it eases the difficulty of finding good parking spaces.

While it’s hard not to assume this technology is still years off, the demonstration video above shows that Volkswagen already knows what they are doing, and it’s likely that this technology will be released around the same time that automated vehicles become a mainstream product. Whether it ends up being Volkswagen specific when launched still remains to be seen, but it could certainly help sell electric vehicles to all the skeptics out there who could benefit from this level of convenience.

Volkswagen is Producing an Electric Scooter

July 17, 2015

If you’ve been looking for a stylish and effective way to travel around the city or another tightly enclosed location and you don’t want a Segway you might want to take a look at the electric scooter that Volkswagen’s currently producing. This little beauty relies on three wheels instead of the two that made the Segway so popular, but it’s capable of driving up to 12 miles on a single charge, and it will weigh just 24 pounds overall.

volkswagen electric scooter

Get from Your Parked Car to Work

If you aren’t too keen on the mile or two walk from your parking spot to the office in the city you could rely on one of these scooters to take you the rest of the way there. There’s no word on the top speed of the unit yet, but you can bet that it will get you where you need to go faster than walking will. It’s a good device for occasional commuting, or if you live right in the city and want to get around easily.

Classy Looks

This scooter has a more sophisticated look than the Segway and it says style more than that product does. It’s white and grey and features a prominent VW logo on the side. The scooter has a single large front wheel, and smaller stability wheels in the back. It comes with foot rests that offer enhanced arch support with a design that will help keep you leaned forward and ready to get going. The device looks comfortable to operate, though we’re still not sure how you’ll actually steer it.

There’s no word if this scooter is going to make it to the United States or not, but you better believe that it will be popular in international markets. It offers a pretty impressive range for such a compact device and would make it a lot more enjoyable to get around town, especially if you’re in a rush and need to get places in a hurry.

The scooter is expected to be sold at less than 1,000 Euros, making it far less costly than a Segway currently is. With similar operating specifications, and a pretty stylish appearance it might give the device a run for its money. It’s an exciting and innovative product launch by Volkswagen, and it’s something that you can pack into your trunk to speed up the morning commute considerably.

Volkswagen Grabs a World Record by Travelling Through All 48 States in the Golf TDI

July 14, 2015

Modern day vehicles are travelling farther and more efficiently than ever before. Recently a new travel record was set by Volkswagen putting the old attempt to shame. A duo of drivers headed out from the USA VW headquarters in Virginia and they traveled through all 48 lower states while burning through a surprisingly small amount of fuel. How much did it take them to make this trip? Just $294.98.

The Navigation Map Through Kansas

The Navigation Map Through Kansas

The Record Trip

This record trip took a total of 16 days to complete and the team of two spent most of that time just driving around a set course. The main driver was Wayne Gerdes, but the co-driver, Bob Winger took over some of the time behind the wheel. During the trip the vehicle managed an average MPG of 81.7. that’s a huge number that’s very impressive when you consider the vehicle is running on standard diesel fuel and that it was obtained in standard driving conditions. There wasn’t any special track that was used to keep driving speeds constant and fuel consumption optimal.

Preparing for the Record

You don’t head into a world record attempt as massive as the one Bob Winger and Wayne Gerdes fought through without a huge amount of preparation. To get ready for the big day, months of planning and pre-driving was required. The duo had to travel through terrible sections of traffic and along countless mountain ranges to learn the necessary driving skills to pull off a run of world-record efficiency.

Driving Through Kansas

Kansas provided one of the longest stretches for the duo to drive through during the trip. As the third longest state as far as trip miles go the team had ample time to witness farmers and ranchers hard at work. Wayne Gerdes had this to say about the trip through Kansas ” Kansas, the wheat capital of the United States, was where we drove more distance in than any other state besides Montana and Nevada. We noticed the farmers and ranchers were busy from Elkhart to Joplin, MO. With an elevation drop of some 2,600 feet from end to end and lower speed/lightly traveled US Highways to drive including numerous farm implements to pass, the state was also one of our most productive in terms of absolute efficiency” The team’s time through Kansas

Bob Winger and Wayne Gerdes with the Golf TDI Used

Bob Winger and Wayne Gerdes with the Golf TDI Used

The Golf TDI Used

The Golf TDI that was used for the trip was a stock model with just a few minor additions to help with things like tracking and navigation. A computer system was added to monitor fuel efficiency figures precisely. A GPS system was installed in the vehicle to help navigate the entire trip and stick with the proposed route exactly (or as close to the proposed route as possible with unexpected traffic conditions encountered). Other than those minor additions to the vehicle it was left stock. The Golf TDI has a turbo-diesel engine and a manual six speed transmission for top fuel efficiency figures.

The World Record

Thanks to the hard work by the Volkswagen team they managed to claim the Guinness World Record for distance traveled in the United States. This comes right after the world record announcement by Honda and shows that the automaker is working hard to keep up with the competition.

After seeing what a stock turbo-diesel from Volkswagen can do it’s hard to not want to just go out to the local dealership and pick one up. The car provides top-level efficiency figures that even hybrid cars would have trouble matching. It’s a good solid vehicle for long-distance trips, and would work as a long-distance commuter as well.

Volkswagen Has Positive Test Results to Show from Three Year Renewable Diesel Study

July 2, 2015

Through a lot of careful testing over the last three years Volkswagen was able to prove that clean diesel alternatives exist and that they are viable fuel sources for our vehicles. The automaker announced that it would be looking into clean diesel fuel sources three short years ago, and now the test results are in and they’re quite positive.

2012 volkswagen passat tdi

The Test Results

All of the testing that Volkswagen did shows that these clean diesel fuel alternatives can be used without causing any damage to the vehicles they are used in and without a performance increase. That means you can expect the same fuel efficiency figures roughly and that you won’t have any engine trouble as a result of the fuel. That’s good news for anyone worrying about their vehicle’s viability in the future when fuel types have been modified to make them renewable.

The Actual Test

To test this fuel Volkswagen set aside 2012 models of the Jetta TDI and Passat TDI. Both of these vehicles were fueled using only clean renewable diesel fuel and together they were operated for a total of over 134,000 miles over a three year period. This is high mileage driving for vehicle in just three years. The tests took these vehicles over standard roadways rather than a track. By taking the vehicles over the roads and highways of the country Volkswagen was able to verify that the fuel would perform as expected in everyday driving situations.

Sugar Fuel

One of the companies behind the fuel, Amyris relies on sugar plants to create the diesel fuel. The plants can be replanted each and every year in order to provide the resources needed for the vehicle fuel. While it m9ight be hard to plant enough sugar to fuel all the diesels around the world, it’s exciting to hear about a renewable resource that works to create a fuel source that also releases less pollution. Though the improve fuel still releases soot and carbon emissions, they are roughly 50 percent of what standard diesel vehicles release. This makes it a cleaner solution that could help cut emission levels over time.

These results are exciting and they show that new fuel technologies are not only possible but highly likely as we head into the future. While we might not be able to remove all our harmful carbon emissions, even reducing them would help our current climate situation. It’s quite possible that future fuel solutions will be developed over time and that many automakers will start preparing their vehicles for a range of renewable fuel sources.

Volkswagen Plans to Release a Phaeton Hybrid

June 25, 2015

It’s no secret that the Volkswagen Phaeton wasn’t an outstanding success story. The vehicle undersold figures the automaker expected it to meet and it has been underperforming ever since the launch. Some automakers would simply abandon a vehicle that was performing poorly, but Volkswagen is instead planning to remake the car and make it into a much more impressive specimen that can compete with the likes of the Audi A8. The car is set to receive a slew of improvements, one of which is the addition of a plug-in hybrid option to the lineup. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone with Volkswagen pushing electric car tech so aggressively, but it’s still exciting.

2015 vw phaeton

Hybrid Technology

There’s not much information about the hybrid powertrain that VW wants to put in the Phaeton but it’s likely to still be pretty potent. The hybrid version will likely provide a mix of power and fuel efficiency. It will make the vehicle more affordable to drive around and will help short commuters avoid relying on fuel altogether.

Volkswagen Adding Charging Stations in Germany

This news goes along well with the VW announcement that they will be adding around 1,200 charging stations around Germany, a country that’s known for its lack of electric charging stations. With millions of vehicles out on the road today, there are reportedly less than 1,000 charging stations currently in use and only around 100 of them are fast charge stations. Volkswagen is hoping to rectify that issue and make the country into a better place to sell electric vehicles, because it currently doesn’t have many EV owners.

New Engine Technology

As an alternative option to the plug-in hybrid tech the Phaeton will also likely get the 6.0 liter W12 technology as well. That would give the car 600 HP and an impressive amount of torque with 663 lb.-ft. overall. If you want a vehicle that can move fast and you don’t want to worry about plugging it in to get the full power from it this gasoline engine will be an excellent option to consider. It relies on a series of twin-turbochargers and even provides a respectable level of fuel efficiency for such a potent level of power.

Some Information about the 2016 Volkswagen Tiguan

June 17, 2015

Volkswagen is putting its mid-sized Tiguan through the paces in a round of testing out in the Alps. The newest iteration of the vehicle was spotted being put through the paces on some pretty tough terrain during this past week. The spy shots show some pretty noticeable changes to the overall appearance of the vehicle that only makes me more excited for the next release.

2016 Volkswagen Tiguan Spy

A More Aggressive Look

Just taking a look at the spy shots of the new Tiguan it’s clear to see a resemblance of the Passat and the CrossBlue concept that was shown earlier of fat the Detroit Auto Show. It has a much more aggressive d-pillar and a sportier roofline overall. These two changes together give the vehicle a more muscular stance and up that intimidation factor, but they aren’t the only changes made. The car also has updated grille and headlight treatments. The changes are difficult to spot with all the camouflage applied, but they are clearly modified and will look boxier if the appearance means anything. The front end seems taller a bulkier, having a slightly truck-like look.

Engine options

While specifics aren’t available yet it’s fair to assume that both diesel and gasoline variants will be offered. It’s also fiar to assume the vehicle will come with four-cylinder engines. There might be a more powerful R variant that creeps up on 300 HP, but that’s not certain yet and will likely be released at a later date than when the SUV first comes out.

Two Variants

Some industry informants have been talking about two different form-factor variants of the Tiguan coming out in the coming years, but it’s hard to see where they would fit in in the current lineup. A coupe-like variant and a long wheel-base model are both rumored to be coming out over the next couple of years, but the longer option seems like it would clash with the rumored 3-row SUV that’s expected to come from VW unless those two concepts are being merged into one.

If you’re interested in the latest version of the Tiguan it’s likely to be put on show at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September. Look back here for more information about the vehicle towards the middle of September, or keep your eye on the show to learn what it has to offer.

 

Financing through a Bank versus a Dealership

June 8, 2015

Every car buyer has to consider whether they want to finance through a dealership or through a bank when buying a vehicle. Both options are viable and every day some buyers will go with one over the other. It’s important to learn the value of both sides of the deal, so you can choose the one that makes the most sense for you specifically. You may be surprised at the option that fits your buying style the best.

2015 volkswagen beetle

Bank Borrowing is More Work

In order to get the best value from working through a bank you have to do more work to get your ideal loan. Borrowing through a bank yourself often results in lower interest rates for you, but only if you are willing to try and work with many different banks until you come across one that offers the deal you want. This means calling up, and possibly driving in to talk with several different banks before you choose the right one.

Dealerships Save Time

When you borrow through ha dealership you’re likely to gain access to many possible lenders quickly. The finance professional helping you out at the dealership will be working hard to connect you with the lender that is going to work for your needs, and will often try out several different possible lenders before finding the right one to use for your vehicle purchase. This process is quick and you don’t have to do most of the work along the way.

Bank Borrowing Gives you Bargaining Power

Dealerships enjoy financing their customers because it locks them into buying a vehicle from that establishment. When you have a preapproval from a separate lender you have the power to walk away and go to another dealership at any time. This can give you more bargaining power and often results in a lower purchase price in the end, but again only if you are willing to do the work. If you get a good loan through a bank you can go to several dealerships and try to obtain the car you want at a lower price than listed. You can haggle with the dealerships and try to get prices dropped based on competitor pricing, and you’ll often be able to get better rates, but this only works if you are willing to do all this work. If you are the type of person that wants to walk into a dealership and leave with a car the same day, or in just a few days then dealership borrowing makes more sense for you.

Consider how ambitious you are before you decide on which lending route you’re going to take for your car. Borrowing through a bank can save you money if you’re willing to do all the work along the way, and I mean a lot. You’ll have to negotiate with both lenders and dealerships to get the price that you want. If you just want a simple transaction that won’t be too much more expensive then it makes more sense to just work with a dealership. You’ll be surprised at how affordable your deal ends up being through a dealership, and they essentially take care of all the work for you so you just have to worry about picking out the car you like the best.

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